And you call yourself independent…

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. — The 9th Amendment to the US Constitution

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. — The 10th Amendment to the US Constitution

Once upon a time, the United States was founded on the principle that the best way for people to live was to maximize their liberty and minimize their governments. In an effort to ensure that state of affairs, the founders of the United States crafted a Constitution and ten amendments designed to ensure that the federal government was bounded and that the liberty of the people was unbounded. Certainly, that founding document had glaring flaws, left certain things unresolved, and failed to anticipate things that have since occurred, yet the principle ideal was sound then and is sound now.

At least, it is sound in theory. Unfortunately, over the intervening 235 years, many Americans have decided that the liberty granted them by foresight, determination, and blood was just too much for them. They have traded their liberty for security, are deserving of neither, and have lost both.

Most Americans see no irony in the fact that they have allowed their government to violate the Constitution by allowing it to force them to pay for unemployment security, medical security, and retirement security; every one of which programs are failing to deliver on their promises while simultaneously bankrupting even those who do not want to participate in them.

And that last part is the real rub. Certainly, it is possible under the ideals of liberty for a group to decide to cede their liberty, but what has happened, especially in the last half of the 20th century, is that some groups have  forced all groups to give up liberty.

So, what are you celebrating if you celebrate independence today? How do you exercise your independence–not just the several liberties guaranteed by the amendments but the innumerable ones not enumerated there? If you are dependent on the government can you even celebrate independence?

These are hard things, and they are supposed to be hard. Liberty is hard. Freedom is hard. The things the founders did were hard. The things 235 years worth of patriots did to secure our nation were hard. Now it’s our turn, and if we do not get to work, we are going to lose what they secured for us.


Christmas Eve 2010

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25, NIV, via

Peace. Hope. Love.

Those are the words, among others, that people use in their celebration of Christmas. We join in a universal longing for the end of strife among ourselves, among our nations, and with our God. We celebrate peace, hope, and love because that is what the nativity story says, and we want to believe it with all of our hearts.

But there is something more to this story of a baby, born of a virgin mother, announced by angels, and laid in a manger:

Atonement. Sacrifice. Death.

You see, baby Jesus was not just any baby, he was the answer to the pressing question of how we achieve peace, hope, and love. He was the one, born into the world at just the right time, while we were yet sinners, to pay the price no human could pay since that fateful day when Adam and Eve violated God’s first covenant with them. Jesus was born in a shadow, the shadow of the cross on which he would die.

Yet even that is not the end of the story, for in the life of this man whose birth we celebrate more than 2,000 years after it happened is an even greater promise:

Justification. Salvation. Eternity.

It is Jesus, laid in a manger at his birth and murdered on a cross in the prime of his life, who also defeated death and the power Satan exercised over us when we fell from God’s grace. It was Jesus who died the sacrificial death, finishing all that had to be finished, and who rose through the glorious power of God as the first fruits of who trust in God’s promises.

If you celebrate Christ’s Mass, it is this reality that you must face: peace, hope, and love with God , paid for with the blood of his only Son, and guaranteed to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

There is no other reason for this celebration because there is no other cause for hope.

Lord Jesus, come quickly to fulfill that hope for those who believe.